Subject Lead: Miss Natalie Stewart
At Stanley Park Infants, we believe that for children to become confident and fluent readers and writers, phonics needs to be taught using a systematic and structured phonics programme.
Research shows that when phonics is taught in a structured way, starting with the easiest sounds and progressing through to the most complex, it is the most effective way of teaching young children to read. DfE, 2013.
Our phonics lessons are delivered by highly skilled practitioners using the Read Write Inc systematic synthetic phonics programme. We ensure coverage of all phonemes as stated within the Letters and Sounds framework. We provide engaging, interactive and practical daily phonics lessons for all children in EYFS and KS1. Our phonics lessons follow a four-part lesson structure and teaching sequence (review - teach - practice - apply) which promotes independence, resilience and success in all our learners.
In Nursery, we begin with phase one phonemes with the main focus of developing children's speaking and listening skills. Through a range of practical activities, games, songs, stories and rhymes our children will explore environmental and voice sounds, rhyme, rhythm and alliteration. By the end of phase one, we aim for all children to be confident in the skills of oral segmenting and blending in preparation for phase two.
In Reception, children begin phase two phonemes and are taught the rhyme for each phoneme and the corresponding graphemes (e.g. 'd dinosaur', 'f flower'). They also learn how to form each grapheme and phoneme with the handwriting rhyme (e.g. f - 'down the flower and give it a leaf'). Children learn to blend these phonemes together to read simple words. They are also taught how to segment words into their sounds when spelling (e.g. c-a-t, b-e-ll, s-o-ck). When the children are confident in phase two, they can then move on to phase three. In this phase they learn that sounds can be represented by two or three letters - digraphs and trigraphs (e.g. f-or-k, r-ai-n). They continue to practice segmenting and blending to read and spell words.
At the end of Reception and the beginning of Year One, our children will focus on phase four. No new phonemes or graphemes are learnt in this phase, rather children are taught to read and spell more complex words such as those that contain adjacent consonants (e.g. trip, sting), compound (e.g. sunflower) and multisyllabic words. Throughout Year One children will deepen their understanding of grapheme-phoneme correspondence and will move on to phase five. During this phase they will be introduced to alternative pronunciations and phonemes for the same graphemes (e.g. 'ow - brown cow' and 'ow - blow the snow'). They will also learn about phoneme families including new graphemes for phonemes that they are already familiar with (e.g. 'ai - snail in the rain', 'a-e - make a cake', 'ay - may I play?').
Towards the end of Year One and in Year Two, children will work through phase six. In this phase there is a greater emphasis on word specific spellings and the expectation is that children will become fluent readers and accurate spellers. Through explicit lessons children learn spelling rules which each have a visual card and rhyme (e.g. 'you can't have an e with an ing'). These include adding suffixes (-est, -ly, -ful, -ness, -ment, -ing) and prefixes (un-, im-, dis-, re-) to words. They are also taught the rules for making plurals and how to spell homophones (e.g. blue/blew, see/sea).
At SPIS, we also model these strategies in shared reading and writing both inside and outside of the phonics lesson and across the curriculum. We have a strong focus on the development of language for our children because we know that speaking and listening are crucial skills for reading and writing in all subjects.
How we teach Phonics
At SPIS we
Teach children that phonics helps us to read and write.
Use the Read Write Inc scheme to teach the phonemes and graphemes involved in phonics, including the associated pictures and rhymes.
Follow the Letters and Sounds progression to ensure curriculum coverage.
Include an active element to all lessons that ensures participation for all learners.
Teach Phonics in small groups which are streamed from the end of Reception.
Regularly assess children’s phonics knowledge to inform our planning and teaching.
Use decodable books that are linked to their phonics knowledge so that children can directly apply their new knowledge and phonic skills at an appropriate level. (We use books from a range of schemes such as Oxford Songbirds, Ruth Miskin, Ditty books).
Invite all parents to attend phonics, reading and writing workshops to support their children with the development of their child’s phonics skills.
How can I support my child at home?
- We encourage daily reading and reading for pleasure.
- Encourage your child to use the Read Write Inc rhymes to remember the phonemes they have learnt and how to form their letters.
- Practise segmenting and blending a range of words with your child to help their fluency in decoding texts.
- Ask your child questions related to the story to check their comprehension and understanding of the text.
From Reception we ensure that children take home a reading book or ditty (a4 card containing phonemes and words) that closely matches their current phonics attainment. Teachers and TAs match books to children's needs through careful observation, assessment and monitoring. This includes using the Ruth Miskin phonics bands assessment, key words assessments and using past Phonics Screening Check papers. Children are also assessed using our benchmarking kits to match their reading attainment, including comprehension skills, to a coloured reading book. It is expected that children can read their phonetically decodable Read Write Inc book or ditty independently and can read their coloured reading book with some adult support. Children may also take home a reading for pleasure book from our school library. Parents are invited to attend phonics and reading workshops to support their children with the development of their early reading and phonics skills.